It’s fall! Our local farmers’ market is laden with seasonal vegetables, and I picked up a nice medium-sized butternut squash with the intent to create a soup that even the vegetable-hating Grill-Meister would eat. (I love the challenge presented by his picky taste buds!)
If the soup turned out well, it would be a candidate for Thanksgiving and / or Christmas dinner.
I baked the squash first, with some whole garlic cloves and small boiling onions. Then I puréed it with the garlic and onions and started adding stuff, tasting after every addition and stopping just when it was juuuuuust right. I was really happy with it, and the Grill-Meister ate it two nights in a row. Success!
The spices I used were simple: nutmeg, white pepper, salt and cumin. They were a perfect complement to the richness of the squash and the heavy cream. With its hint of cumin, the finished product tastes slightly Southwestern, and I garnished it with a swirl of jalapeño-flavored olive oil and a handful of cilantro. You could just as easily go with a plain olive oil and Italian parsley, or even mint. Or get fancy with the garnish – I just saw a recipe that garnished butternut squash soup with chopped, crispy bacon. Yum!
This creamy soup was a great main course the first time we had it, and worked really well in a soup and sandwich combo the next night. And it definitely qualifies for a holiday meal. We’re thinking of serving it as “soup shots” with an aperitif for Christmas dinner.
Ingredients (Serves 4 as a main course, 8 as a first course)
- One medium/small butternut squash
- 5 whole cloves of garlic, skins on
- 4 small boiling onions, peeled and halved, or one small white onion, peeled and cut into 8 pieces
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- 3/4 cup water
- Salt and freshly ground pepper (for the squash)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 cups chicken stock / broth (or vegetable stock if you want a vegetarian soup – but not water)
- 1/4 tsp. cumin
- 1/2 tsp. white pepper
- 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1 1/4 tsp. salt
- Olive oil for drizzling (I like to use jalapeño-flavored oil)
- Chopped cilantro (can substitute parsley, mint or other fresh herbs)
Note: like people, squash come in all different sizes, and the ingredient ratios in this recipe were perfect for my individual squash. Have some extra heavy cream and chicken or vegetable stock on hand in case your squash requires a bit more liquid, and be ready to adjust the seasonings.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the squash in half longwise and remove the seeds. Cut in half again longwise. Place cut side up in an ovenproof casserole dish, and then arrange the garlic and onion around the squash. Drizzle olive oil over the squash, garlic and onions, then season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Pour water into the casserole dish and place in the oven. Bake for about 40 minutes until you can pierce the squash easily with a fork, but before it is completely mushy. Remove from oven, cover with foil and let cool slowly. (This step can be done up to 3 days ahead of time; refrigerate until you are ready to finish the soup.)
Remove the skins from the garlic. Use a spoon to scoop the squash out of its skin and place in a blender or food processor along with the baked onion and garlic and puree until very smooth. Add all other ingredients and blend again until well mixed.
Transfer the soup to a saucepan on the stove and heat over medium/low heat for about 15 minutes; it will thicken slightly. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if necessary.
Serve hot; drizzle with olive oil and garnish with cilantro.
Copyright 2016, Glover Gardens Cookbook